Thursday, 15 October 2009

Object #1 - The Coat Hanger

Without the invention of the coat hanger, our clothes would be in a crumpled in a heap on the floor.

coat hang·er (plural coat hang·ers)



frame for item of clothing: a curved frame with a hook, used to drape an d hang clothes

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The origins of the coat hanger are unclear, with some speculating that Thomas Jefferson was the original creator of the coat hanger, having invented many small practical devices, whilst other believe O.A North of New Britain should be credited for his coat hook, invented in 1869, which inspired the invention of the popular shoulder shaped wire hanger we still use today.
We do however know that the basic wire coat hanger, w hich looks much like the one we know today, was first patented on January 25th, 1904 by John B. Timberlake of the Timberlake Wire and Novelty company in Jackson, Michigan, after an emplyee named Albert J. Parkhouse inadvertently invented the coat hanger after discovering all the coat hooks were in use. Parkhouse took a length of wire and bent it into two ovals, which mimicked the shape of the shoulders, then he ends twisted together to form a hook. The invention allowed him to hang his coat practically anywh ere he wanted.
Soon, all the other employees were using parkhouse's idea to hang their coats, and after patenting the invention, the production the wire structure began in the company's factory.
Over 189 different patents were granted worldwide on various versions of 'garment hangers' between 1900 and 1906. Steel wire was the main material used to create the hangers, sometimes being combined with wood, fabric and cardboard.
Spring mechanisms were introduced to coat hangers in the Victorian era to accommodate for women's skirts and bustles, which allowed the length of the hanger to be adjusted and ensured garments retained pleats and folds.
Moving further into the 20th century, hooks and clips were introduced on hangers to accommodate for all types of garments, including tie s and belts. Foldable hangers were created for travel and ease of inserting hangers though collars for minimal creasing and stretching.